As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of delivery services have noticed increased sales. People are cooped up in their houses and forced to prepare and eat their meals.
According to the epidemiologists, COVID-19 is usually spread through respiratory droplets that are expelled when an infected person talks, sneezes or coughs. This virus can be also transmitted when individuals touch contaminated surfaces and then touch their noses, mouth or eyes.
So far, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food. However, according to a study published a month ago in the New England Journal of Medicine, there is a slight possibility that it might remain on food packaging for up to 72 hours, especially on plastic, while on cardboard, it remains for more than three hours.
So, although it is not a foodborne disease, it can be transmitted by surface cross-contamination. The World Health Organization says that the period this virus stays on surfaces depends both on the conditions as well as on the type of surface. But, likewise other coronaviruses, COVID-19 can remain on surfaces for a couple of hours to several days. One report says the virus persisted on cruise ship surfaces for about 15 days.
Therefore, the US Department of Agriculture suggests there is no evidence leading us to believe that COVID-19 can be transmitted through imported goods, but it is of utmost importance to follow the key steps of safety when you deal with food delivery, such as cleaning the food and separating it from the other ingredients.
The Institute for Food Safety advises placing your shopping bags on the floor when you get home and immediately washing your hands. It is recommendable to use single-use bags so that you can discard them easily. However, keep in mind that you don’t need to sanitize the food packaging.
Make sure you have your delivery food left at the door to limit the contact with the deliverer. Empty the food containers onto your plates and then discard them. Do not forget to wash your hands.
Rinse fruits and vegetables with water and never use bleach or soap because they may have negative impacts on your health if you consume them afterward.
Make sure you practice the hygiene and food safety measures described above. Clean the surfaces, wash your hands, refrigerate your food, and cook it to the right temperature.
References: CDC, New England Journal of Medicine, Food Safety Information Council, The World Health Organization, National Institutes Of Health, Institute for Food Safety, U.S. Department Of Agriculture, FDA, Foodsafety.gov